451 episodes

The Food Chain examines the business, science and cultural significance of food, and what it takes to put food on your plate.

The Food Chain BBC World Service

    • Arts
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

The Food Chain examines the business, science and cultural significance of food, and what it takes to put food on your plate.

    Cooking is chemistry

    Cooking is chemistry

    Why do we cook? To create flavour, to aid digestion and to release nutrients from our food.
    Every time we fry, steam, boil, or bake a series of chemical reactions take place that are key to a dish’s success.
    In this programme Ruth Alexander puts questions from the BBC World Service audience to Dr Stuart Farrimond in the UK, author of ‘The Science of Cooking’. Susannah and Aaron Rickard in Australia tell Ruth about the chemical reactions they discovered when researching their cookbook ‘Cooking with Alcohol’. And Krish Ashok in India, author of ‘Masala Lab: The Science of Indian Cooking’, explains the science behind the culinary wisdom of your parents and grandparents.
    If you’d like to contact the programme email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk
    Presented by Ruth Alexander.
    Produced by Beatrice Pickup.
    (Image: two young girls wearing goggles and aprons conducting a science experiment. Credit: Getty Images/ BBC)

    • 26 min
    'Happy' cafes

    'Happy' cafes

    Of the tens of millions of people around the world with autism or down syndrome, only a tiny fraction is in paid employment.
    But cooking, making drinks and waiting tables is work where people with learning disabilities can shine.
    John Laurenson takes us to a Café Joyeux (Happy Café) in Paris, one of a fast-growing chain of cafe-restaurants where most of the staff have autism or down syndrome and where the croque monsieur comes with a smile.
    We also hear from a cafe in Mumbai launched by the mother whose daughter has autism and, in Turkey, the KFCs with a difference.
    Find out how café work can transform the lives of employees and owners.
    Presenter/Producer: John Laurenson
    (Image: Louis, Laura, Anne-France and Arnaud. Credit: BBC)

    • 26 min
    Your taste is unique

    Your taste is unique

    Taste, it turns out, is not a matter of opinion. Scientists have discovered that your perception of taste is informed by your genetics.
    When we eat or drink something, we may be having an entirely different experience to the person we’re sharing a meal with, or the chef who has prepared it, or the critic who has recommended it.
    In this programme Ruth Alexander explores her likes and dislikes and how they might be informed by biology.
    Ruth meets Laura Kent of the Yorkshire Wine School in the UK who helps her learn about her sensitivity to acidic and bitter flavours. Ruth speaks to Anne Fadiman, writer and Professor of creative writing at Yale University in the US, who dislikes wine, despite her wine critic father loving it. Danielle Reed, Chief Science Officer at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, US, explains the science. Tim Hanni, Master of Wine, and author of ‘Why You Like The Wine You Like’ argues that the wine industry is not paying enough attention to individual tastes. Where does this new science leave wine competitions? David Kermode, judge at the IWSC, International Wine and Spirits Competition, makes the case for the experts.
    If you'd like to contact the programme, please contact thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk.
    Presented by Ruth Alexander.
    Produced by Beatrice Pickup.
    (Image: three people tasting wine. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)

    • 30 min
    How safe is the soil in our cities?

    How safe is the soil in our cities?

    More of us are living in cities and urban farming is on the rise. Can you be sure the city soil you’re growing in is clean enough?
    Industry and traffic can contaminate land, but there are ways to deal with the problem.
    Ruth Alexander finds out how to test soil, how to clean it, and which fruit and vegetables are the safest to grow on former industrial and commercial sites.
    If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email: thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk
    (Picture: A garden trowel with some soil on it)
    Producer: Hannah Bewley

    • 26 min
    Food double-acts: Couples

    Food double-acts: Couples

    What’s it like spending 24 hours a day together? Ruth Alexander speaks to couples who run restaurants. She hears how they met, what they argue about and why being a couple might be good for business.
    Ruth visits Andrea Follador and Jazz Navin at ‘The Perfect Match’ restaurant in Sale, in the North West of England. Jazz is the chef and Andrea is the sommelier, the two met working at Gordan Ramsay’s ‘The Savoy Grill’ in London. Ruth speaks to Francisco Araya and Fernanda Guerrero, chefs who have lived and worked together in their native Chile, China, and now Singapore where they run fine dining ‘Araya’ restaurant. Rita Sodi and wife Jody Williams ran a restaurant each, and then decided to open one together, 'Via Carota' in New York, United States. Today they run five bars and restaurants together in the city.
    If you would like to get in touch with the show please email thefoodchain@bbc.co.uk.
    Presented by Ruth Alexander.
    Produced by Beatrice Pickup.
    (Image: Andrea Follador and Jazz Navin who run ‘The Perfect Match’ restaurant together in North West England. Credit: BBC)

    • 29 min
    The bakers

    The bakers

    In a world where ingredients cost more due to war and inflation how is easy is it to make and sell our daily bread?
    Ruth Alexander speaks to three bakers about how they started in the industry, the highs and lows and economic pressures in their part of the world.
    Alex Oke is the owner of XO Boutique Bakery in Lagos, Nigeria, Tracey Muzzolini is the owner of Christies Mayfair Bakery in Saskatoon, Canada and Samer Chamoun is the owner of The Lebanese Bakery, a chain of 12 branches including Beirut, Cairo and London.
    Presented by Ruth Alexander.
    Produced by Rumella Dasgupta.
    (Image: Alex Oke holding a loaf of Nigerian agege bread and Tracey Muzzolini holding a loaf of sourdough bread. Credit: Donna Martins/Chelsea Walton/BBC)

    • 26 min

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